Channeling creativity through art and engineering

Emily Satterfield likes to create. Whether or not she’s crocheting a costume she noticed on TikTok, baking a cake, dancing at Cambridge’s Havana Membership, or tinkering on a challenge, she fills her days with actions that channel her seemingly limitless creativity. 

“Being inventive has all the time been an enormous a part of who I’m. I get a brand new pastime each week. I simply love something that entails making issues,” says Satterfield ’22, who not too long ago graduated from MIT with a level in mechanical engineering.

Raised in Lowell, Massachusetts, Satterfield was surrounded by creativity from a younger age. Her mom is a trainer with a ardour for artwork and oil portray. Her father is {an electrical} engineer with a knack for do-it-yourself automation tasks. Rising up, she considered artwork and engineering as two separate entities. You couldn’t be each an artist and an engineer.

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“I all the time thought that engineering and artwork have been opposites and also you couldn’t actually do each,” she says.

Upon enrolling in MIT, Satterfield got down to examine electrical engineering at MIT. However she rapidly discovered herself gravitating extra towards mechanical engineering. For her, making robots transfer was exhilarating.

Considered one of her first alternatives to construct a robotic got here within the spring of her sophomore yr. She enrolled in 2.007 (Design and Manufacturing I). College students within the class design and construct their very own robots. The category culminates in a boisterous closing robotic competitors.

However midway by means of the semester, Satterfield and her fellow college students have been despatched dwelling because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Caught at dwelling, she craved a inventive outlet and took up drawing. Her time in quarantine helped her understand that her twin passions of artwork and engineering didn’t must be mutually unique.

“That’s once I began to appreciate that artwork was who I used to be,” she says. “Particularly as a mechanical engineer, I spotted how engineering and artwork aren’t opposites. They really go hand-in-hand. If you’re designing or constructing one thing, you’re actually creating one thing new.”

Her drive for creation led her to an undergraduate analysis alternative, often known as a SuperUROP, with Professor David Hardt. The challenge examined the usage of additive manufacturing to construct low-cost properties for people experiencing homelessness. The aim is to make the most of methods like 3D printing to construct light-weight properties made out of recycled plastics. She continued work on the challenge for her senior thesis.

Within the senior capstone class 2.009 (Product Engineering Processes), Satterfield had a chance to merge her love of artwork and engineering additional. Reasonably fittingly, her staff constructed a prototype for a tool named “Palette.” The moveable product permits painters to tint paint to the precise shade they want onsite, eliminating time-consuming journeys to the paint retailer. The staff labored with Benjamin Moore to develop their product.

Working together with her fellow mechanical engineering college students on a big, intensive challenge like Palette gave Satterfield a preview of what engaged on an engineering staff in business can be like.

“Most Course 2 college students like constructing issues and speaking in regards to the issues they make, which lends properly to teamwork and educating one another various things. Inventive engineers are actually good teammates, and I believe that’s very true about most Course 2 college students,” she says.

After graduating in Could, Satterfield joined the inventive engineers at SpaceX. Over the summer season, she participated within the firm’s affiliate program.

Satterfield now works as a buildings engineer for the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft staff. She and her coworkers develop applied sciences for the spacecraft. In early October, because the crewed Dragon took off from Cape Canaveral, applied sciences that Satterfield labored on have been on the spacecraft.

“It was actually cool to see one thing that I helped work on have an effect. Figuring out that there are individuals contained in the spacecraft actually put issues into perspective,” she provides.

Regardless of her busy schedule, she nonetheless has managed to seek out new hobbies — the newest of which entails refinishing furnishings for her new condo in California. Regardless of the future holds, Satterfield will proceed to pursue shops for her creativity.

“I’m excited to see long run how I can take my bizarre, form of discombobulated pursuits and mix them into my very own factor,” she says.


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